July 12, 2020

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RG three years ago: Françoise Abanda

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As Françoise Abanda headed to the French Open qualifying in 2017, she was ranked just inside the top 200.

By the time she left, she was inside the top 140 and on her way to a career high of No. 111 in October of that year.

She got there by winning three qualifying rounds with the loss of just one set; two of the wins came against players ranked much higher.

And in the main draw, she caught a break.

Abanda faced a French wild card, Tessah Andrianjifitrimo. And even though she wasn’t the home-country favorite, she got quite a bit of support in a 6-3, 6-4 victory.

Here’s some video of some solid slugging.

That gave Abanda the opportunity to play on a big court, against a former No. 1 in Caroline Wozniacki.

It … didn’t go well, although Abanda took the double bagel in pretty good stride.

She left Paris with over $75,000 US in prize money, too.

Three years of tough times

Three years on, Abanda wasn’t anywhere near making the qualifying for the tournament, which has – best-case scenario – been postponed to the fall.

But she did begin 2020 on an optimistic note after several years of struggles and injuries.

After losing in the first round of US Open qualifying to Sachia Vickery last summer, Abanda found herself outside the top 400 in the world.

From there, given the level of tournaments you can get into, it’s a tough slog to get back.

Abanda poses for some selfies with young fans after a win in qualifying at the 2017 French Open. She reached the second round of the main draw. (Stephanie Myles/opencourt.ca)

Abanda played just three more events in 2019. She began 2020 in late January down in Florida, having to play the qualifying at a $25,000 event.

In February, she had been pre-selected to play Fed Cup for Canada against Switzerland. But then, for reasons still fairly unclear, she was no longer picked.

Fed Cup snub proves fruitful

It was a disastrous weekend for Canada as Bianca Andreescu, who was along for the trip, wasn’t anywhere near returning from her knee injury despite all of the “hopeful” words from everyone.

Then Genie Bouchard, who hadn’t played Fed Cup for awhile and wasn’t in particularly good form, injured her left wrist the day before she was to play Belinda Bencic and had to pull out.

That left young Leylah Fernandez and Gabriela Dabrowski, as the Canadian squad (despite the question marks) decided to only bring four players to Switzerland.

It was grossly unfair to Dabrowski, who had practiced her singles just once in the off-season and, given she doesn’t get support from Tennis Canada, was risking injury and a blow to her livelihood, which is doubles.

Fernandez upset Bencic. But Canada was blasted 3-1 by Switzerland.

Meanwhile, Abanda made the best of the snub. She went 15-5 on the ITF circuit and managed to hike her ranking back up inside the top 300 before the coronovirus shut things down.